Blog Book Tour | “The Masque of a Murderer” (Book 3 in the Lucy Campion Mysteries) by Susanna Calkins Whilst Jorie borrows the first novel in the series to properly become acquainted with Lucy Campion!

Posted Friday, 17 April, 2015 by jorielov , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “The Masque of a Murderer” virtual book tour through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of “The Masque of a Murderer” direct from the publisher Minotaur Books (an imprint of St. Martin’s Press via MacMillan), in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Whilst I drew closer to my tour stop date, I realised the best way to draw entrance into a three book series is to read the first and second novel of the Lucy Campion mysteries. Therefore, I requested by ILL (inter-library loan) the first novel: “A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate” whilst submitting a purchase request at my local library for the second novel “From the Charred Remains” as it was released a month before my tour stop and I’m only able to ILL items outside of six months from publication. The ILL request went through and the purchase request is still pending, therefore, my readings of “A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate” are without being obligated to post a review, as my ruminations on behalf of this novel are for my own edification only.

Intrigued to Read:

To my own recollective memory, I first discovered A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate and the Lucy Campion series as a whole via my local library — as the choice to sub-title my blog ‘a bookish library girl’ is far more apt to who I am than one might first believe possible! You see, it’s a direct reference to the fact I spend half an age scouring the stacks (both physical and virtual) of my local library, seeking out literature of not just the historical past but literature across genre and declaration of style to curate a ‘next reads’ (or as the masses refer to as a ‘TBR’) list that would be most gratifying to undertake reading! My TBR List on Riffle is a bit of a work-in-progress as it’s not yet released to the public, as I’m cross-conferring with handwritten notes, and the few short stack of papers which were my personal book diaries which pre-dated my blog: Jorie Loves A Story. I shared the prior project with my close personal friends, wherein this project is shared with the world as a whole.

Those lists were generated by visiting local Indie book shoppes, national chains in lieu of local book shoppes (as let’s face it, not every area has local Indies; so very sad!), local libraries in four separate counties, and numerous bookish sites and/or group author blogs online — to where I would have this immersion of fiction that not only crossed over the centuries but through every style currently being published by novelists today! As previously declared in a variety of posts and on my Review Policy specifically, (or even on the header of my Twitter acc!) I ‘dance through genres’ inasmuch as I am a hybrid reader of both mainstream and INSPY markets.

Settling inside the 17th Century felt like a keen idea, as the 18th and 19th Centuries are more widely known to me, as they hold within their chapters of time such happiness found whilst alighting during the Victorian and Regency eras. A close second for me would be the Edwardian era, of which I have Downton Abbey to thank, and Ms Kaine to bless for giving me such a heightened awareness of a new ‘era’ to fall madly in love as I read! I am genuinely drawn to leading female characters whose strength of wit, turn of intellect, and smashingly accurate observation give a grounding of perspective and heart to the evolution of the stories themselves. I love finding writers who can charm us with a setting and a timescape but intuitively know to write in a breadth of heart and soul, giving us a story whose appeal is more tethered to the character and the story of their lives than simply time hopping era to era.

In this way, Lucy Campion was on my short-list of ‘next reads’ of whom she was keeping company alongside Aunt Dimity (by Nancy Alterton), Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes (by Laurie R. King), Ms Phryne Fisher (by Kerry Greenwood), Lady Emily (by Tasha Alexander), Lady Darby (by Anna Lee Huber), Eloise (of the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig), Molly Murphy and Lady Georgie (by Rhys Bowen), Hercules Poirot (by Dame Christie & Hannah Sophie), Maisie Dobbs (by Jacqueline Winspear) and all the lovelies who are populating this Riffle List entitled: Blissfully Finding Books which Enchant Me! Stay tuned to my Twitter feeds as I’m hoping to release this new list soon! It will be archived with the rest of my Bookish Lists in my top menu under “My Bookish Life”!

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Blog Book Tour | “The Masque of a Murderer” (Book 3 in the Lucy Campion Mysteries) by Susanna Calkins Whilst Jorie borrows the first novel in the series to properly become acquainted with Lucy Campion!The Masque of a Murderer

Book Synopsis of The Masque of a Murderer:

In Susanna Calkins’ next richly drawn mystery set in 17th century England, Lucy Campion, formerly a ladies’ maid in the local magistrate’s household, has now found gainful employment as a printer’s apprentice. On a freezing winter afternoon in 1667, she accompanies the magistrate’s daughter, Sarah, to the home of a severely injured Quaker man to record his dying words, a common practice of the time. The man, having been trampled by a horse and cart the night before, only has a few hours left to live. Lucy scribbles down the Quaker man’s last utterances, but she’s unprepared for what he reveals to her—that someone deliberately pushed him into the path of the horse, because of a secret he had recently uncovered.

Fearful that Sarah might be traveling in the company of a murderer, Lucy feels compelled to seek the truth, with the help of the magistrate’s son, Adam, and the local constable. But delving into the dead man’s background might prove more dangerous than any of them had imagined.

In The Masque of a Murderer, Susanna Calkins has once again combined finely wrought characters, a richly detailed historical atmosphere, and a tightly-plotted mystery into a compelling read.

Read an Excerpt of the Novel via Criminal Element

Read a hearty array of 'behind-the-book' features via Ms Calkins blog!

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Series: Lucy Campion Mysteries,

on 14th April, 2015

Pages: 323

Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Published By: Minotaur Books (@MinotaurBooks)
imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group,
which is now a part of MacMillian Publishers

Available Formats: Hardback, E-book

Book 1: A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate :
Book Synopsis On Riffle | Public Library 

Book 2: From the Charred Remains :
Book Synopsis On Riffle | Public Library 

Converse on Twitter via: #LucyCampion, #SusannaCalkins, #MasqueOfAMurderer, and #TheMasqueofaMurdererBlogTour

About Susanna Calkins

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Susanna Calkins lives in Highland Park, Illinois with her husband and two sons, where she is an educator at Northwestern University. With a PhD in history, her historical mysteries feature Lucy Campion, a 17th century chambermaid-turned-printer’s apprentice.

Her first novel, A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate, was a finalist for the Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award (Macavity). The second in this series, From the Charred Remains, is currently a finalist for the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery Award. Her third, The Masque of a Murderer, will be released in April 2015.

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My thoughts on behalf of A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate:

A Murder At Rosamund's Gate by Susanna CalkinsLucy Campion has us entreat into her morning routine, as if we were long term guests of her employer, the magistrate. So settled in her duties, and the confidence of her environ, her notations on these rituals is with a calm ease twitching with curiosity. Her mind has an alertness about it, taking in the occurances both good and questionable with equal attention to detail.

Thus at the odd hour in which a constable arrives to take audience with her master, she is slightly bemused at what could cause his intrusion. Laying mind to go about what needed to be done forthwith, we observe how Ms Campion has a heart for the less fortunate who shrink under a crime most look askance to even acknowledge had happened. If I had not been properly won over by her countenance prior to this scene at the market, Lucy Campion had me locked into her world now!

Although the timescape differs, I found it most interesting the body of the (recently) deceased in both this first Lucy Campion novel and that of Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby series were withchild! In fact, a step further, I should note, both women have an earnest passion for the craft of writing stimulating mysteries wrought out of the historical past featuring bonefide strong female leads! Only yesterday, I had mentioned how Lady Darby and Emily De Quincey held equal appeal for me, having read my first David Morrell novel. I find myself drawn to women who not only step outside their station but rise above it to prove that an individual’s worth and contribution is not limited by class and their station of origin. Calkins denotes period specific elements of familiarity to help guide the reader into this Restorative England during the 17th Century; at times it’s quite shockingly brutal and honestly real, as society back then was not for the faint of heart! Surely, though with these elements of visual horror included (yet tempered a bit to where they do not overtly overtake you; but do evoke your heart’s will of empathy) it draws a definitive line of how life then was truly a matter of will and fortitude to survive what befell you.

The propriety and the rules of how servants engage with their masters of the house were truly intact to show the disparities of both classes who live within a short distance of each other. The era of time itself was bent towards gossip-mongers and hearsay half-truths of macabre in step with today’s society; wherein, the more horrific the crime, the more people were inclined to tip their tongue to add a new layer of sensationalism to the story itself. The main differences lay within the legal system, where truth and justice were a murky corridor where it was quite ill apparent guilt was never meant to be proven as it was presumed to be a given whereas innocence was a harder case to present against a back-tide of suspicion and a system not set-up for defending one’s rights nor the laws in which protect you. Evenso, most petty crimes ran rampant without a surefire system to maintain order, as this pre-dates organised police forces and a semblance of order carried out by evidential based court cases. This tightly wrought history is keenly presented by a writer whose research shines brightly on how without one’s wits about oneself in time of court, could prove quite fatal indeed!

As we dig ourselves backwards through time’s arrow, we uncover how difficult even ordinary life was to be lived without foul play disrupting the line of course a person’s life would normally take. The seeds of evil are never far-off from the scope of this neculous hive of high society, even if the gentry would rather believe otherwise, as darkness can blight out anyone’s life if the fuelling behind the deception is powerful enough to constrict logic, reason, and humanity. I had nearly forgotten how during Ms Campion’s time there was a far more brutal approach to dispelling the criminal mind to act as public displays of previously caught criminals of Crown and State were publicly featured at London Bridge. The last time I found a writer whose research proved to enlighten as much as to entertain the everyday effects of law and justice were during my readings of Inscription! Moments like these seek to remind myself I oft-times prefer a more demure and romantic inkling of history’s savage past.

How anyone would learn to walk past (London Bridge) and not feel quickened to ills is beyond me, although the same could be said for the prison system, where inhumane practices of retention were the norm. History has always been marred with brutality but it is how we chose to improve our lives and the treatment of those who do ill amongst us, that speaks volumes of our progress.

One of the trials of Ms Campion’s young life was allowing herself to embrace the joys which arrived a bit unexpectedly. Raised with Puritan values and faith yet caught in a period of transformation and transition, her conscience and heart were at times conflicted. Her inner beauty was matched to her quickfire mind yet true to society, her beauty went vastly unnoticed by most. Her friendship with dear Bessie was a true bond of sisterhood yet part of Lucy’s awareness of their connection led her to notice certain things go amiss. For the close bond they shared, Lucy oft felt they were world’s apart altogether. The hurt Lucy felt when Bessie went missing ran deep and thick, followed shortly by two lessons of the truth of how dark the manners of men can become who do not first respect women outright. In many ways, this is a coming-of-age story about a young woman transitioning through her girlhood into womanhood; balancing her station with the newfound peace of where she feels led to go next. In essence, she doesn’t want to settle nor does she want to compromise her convictions and natural leanings towards knowledge and journalism.

Most fascinating was how pamphlets, ballads, and short stories were sold for pennies of coin in order for news to break amongst the populace; an elementary system for journalism, both true and false. A true early glimpse into how the press and papers were sensationalist as they outweighed the need for solemnity in lieu of giving the public what they wanted to hear and digest.

Part of the joy in reading how Lucy Campion came of age whilst an ill-fated departure of her dearest friend shattered her heart with sorrow, is that we were allowed to see her emerge into her own skin with a new awareness of the world. Tested and injured in spirit, Lucy finds herself caught in an earnest tap dance of trust with her employer’s son, Adam. Within their heated exchanges, Lucy’s growth and maturity to accept a new stage of her life begins to blossom! So much so, that by the time I read the conclusion of this installment, I saw the foretelling truth of where she would next alight on her path, as expressed in the synopsis for The Masque of a Murderer as the principles behind her choices were outlined and viewed within this first chapter of her life!

My review of The Masque of a Murderer:

What wicked delight! A map of London from Ms Campion’s perspective is included! Alas, it’s been six months past the Great Fire, I haven’t lost too much time away from the pace of the story! I had to nearly smile myself into a chuckle how ‘Lucy’ presented herself to me at first notice in Chapter 1! Truly a classic move for her to make!

As Sarah Hargrave re-enters Ms Campion’s life, I feel as if I am picking up from whence I last saw Sarah taking leave of England to live amongst the Quakers whilst dodging a law that was in place to prevent her freedom to choose an alternative religion. From the on-set, Lucy is cast directly into a world she does not quite understand but has a good sense about what it involves, as her ingenuity for learning about religion, politics, and law extend beyond what is readily available in her own living sphere of knowledge. She has the intention to understand the misunderstood and to draw her own conclusions on topics and subjects that others might find controversial, especially for a woman of her years and recently released from service. Lucy’s compassionate heart serves her well in all facets of her life, but here, at the unexpected arrival of a man’s deathbed, she finds a confidence being extended due to her proximity to Adam, Sarah’s brother and Lucy’s intended betrothed.

A bit of drama never hurt a girl’s chances for rooting out which bloke had won her heart over another, and Calkins doesn’t disappoint us with a new sleeve of interest in regards to Lucy’s affections! Precipitated perhaps by her conscience in affliction to the changing tides of society, Lucy is betwixt knowing what she would fancy more: independent means or matrimony. Til she decides which way her heart flies, it is with earnest delight for the reader to observe the bemused actions of Adam and the Constable whilst an unspoken question lies in wait amongst the three.

Oh! From the Charred Remains was one of Lucy’s original writings printed and sold from Master Aubrey’s press! The very press I knew she would find a way to bolt herself inside and become a writer herself, as she was drawn to the idea the last time I met her! Her mind is one that likes to take on puzzles and then wiggle out the wax that binds the truth to lies and wind them back round to the proper order of how the events folded together. The writings are still an important part of her work as much as her noodling in the community to catch justice on the fly. She is very much a private investigator in fanciful league with contemporaries long before whispers of women leading investigations would be reckoned as plausible. She carts herself onto paths that lend them an earful of information whilst hiding behind her character to forestall suspicion from those who are guilty of the crimes. It’s a unique position to be in, as she blends in well enough to have pulled off being a Pinkerton had centuries launched themselves forward!

For continuity, I am finding Calkins’ has a dear compass of acute remembrance for even the smallest of details that begin to become important to her readers. She knits everything together as a well-bound skein, giving us further glimpses into her characters’ innermost thoughts as much as the morality of how they live in a changing world. The backdrop of their lives is quite unsettling as half the world feels unturnt due to the immense loss and deaths from back to back catastrophic disasters, yet she honours the characters by giving us samples of their honesty and humbleness each time we meet them. She allows them the grace of finding their own rhythm to disclose what they want us to know inasmuch as what they want each other to find revealled in their own ways. It’s a beautiful dance of history, first loves, murderous suspense, and an undercurrent for change both personal and sociological.

The titles of the novels are imploring on their own merits, and they ink out a bit of a clue towards where each new installment will guide us further into Ms Campion’s journal of life. We only get to take up residence with her for brief spurts of time and somehow within this fractioned space, we find a dear friend we cannot help but beg to read with a fever of excitement for what she will tell us next! Very much like having received a treasured letter by post from a friend.

Wicked happy to read a novel from my TBR List & discovering the style of Cosy Historical Mysteries by the pen of Susana Calkins:

I love reading Introductions, Author Notes, Appendixes, and all the lovely bits of ‘extras’ one can find in ARCs and finished copies of the novels we consume on a regular basis! Even the Editor’s Notes inside ARCs provide me with a space of joy, as I like seeing what is left behind for us to absorb prior to or just after reading the story itself! In this way, I was delighted finding how cheeky Ms Calkins was in referring to the duties in which her husband has taken on since she became a full-time writer! As I am never quite sure what can be considered ‘fair use’ to quote from novels, I’ll withhold her designations, but there were four individual titles and therein I simply had to smile at the mirth of her inclusions for which each of them individually represented! Quite smashing brilliant I thought!

I had a feeling the Great Plague was carried by rats and a quick search in DuckDuckGo (a new browser of choice for the internet) revealed it was the ‘fleas’ on rats that carried the Black Death with them! How horrid then, that within a year’s reach London was hit hard by both fire and plague! Calkins takes you straight into the height of both calamities but keeps the heart intact for you to carry through with Ms Campion and the others who either survived or died during this horrid time in their history. I also discovered a new ‘hashtag’ to use whilst talking about the books I am reading during the 17th C which is simply ‘#17thC‘ and quite cunningly my personal shortened way of eluding to it! What fun!?

Despite the harrowingly horrid times Lucy Campion was experiencing it is a point of view from socio-economic perspectives that tie me directly into period dramas and fictional suspense. I like to see how sociology plays a larger part in how people approach adversity and chaos as it arrives in their lives, but also, to see how the moxie they have to re-define themselves after living through a trial of epic loss or difficulty can see them transition forward with a newfound clarity of spirit and voice. From this vantage point, Lucy Campion is a character who not only endures, but inspires!

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This blog tour is courtesy of: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Regrettably due to personal stress and a bit of anxiety, I was unable to post my review on my scheduled stop on the 16th of April, and had to postpone sharing my ruminations on the 17th; wherein lateron on the morrow (the 18th) I shall be sharing my reading joy of settling into Scent of Triumph, as Friday is the last day for both of these historical fiction blog tours. I had attempted to make amends on both but lost too many hours to capture the stories and thereby will be posting one a day late. I am blessed and grateful for the distraction of the 17th Century as envisioned by Ms Calkins’ as it allowed my mind to take itself off my woes, and dig inside the loveliness of finding a girl growing into womanhood on the larkspur discovery of her true calling! Lucy Campion is as beautiful to read about as Lady Darby (series by Anna Lee Huber) and Emily De Quincey! It is also to be noted this is my second venture into reading Quaker fiction and appreciating the history therein!

From the Charred Remains by Susanna CalkinsI appreciate the patience in my dear hearted readers, HFVBTs, and the author whose writings captured my heart! I cannot wait to read the second novel in this series (as I have a feeling ‘charred remains’ is directly related to the Great London Fire or it is a metaphor of how to rebuild your life from the ashes that remain), whilst giving me the greatest joy in re-visiting novels one and three after which time I will truly be soaked inside Ms Campion’s world! I cannot wait to visit Sleuths in Time (@sleuthsintime) as it’s a group author site I found out about via Ms Huber, and of which is on my route to start visiting frequently! (especially for advance notice of upcoming releases as well as following their feeds on Twitter!) Mind you, there are several group author blogs/sites of note, and methinks I need to sit down and compose a proper post about which ones give me the most joy! As I love sharing the bookish joy which gives me butterflies of happiness!

The Virtual Road Map for “The Masque of a Murderer” can be found here: I love discovering new wicked stories of the historical past as I am a regular hostess for HFVBTs! Kindly drop by my Bookish Events page to see which stories and authors are upcoming to Jorie Loves A Story!

The Masque of a Murderder Blog Tour via HFVBTs

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Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva.
Reader Interactive Question:
When it comes to Cosy Historical Mysteries and/or Traditional Historical Mysteries (which are not as ‘cosy’ on the visuals), what do you prefer to find inside the stories? Do you like strong female heroines singularly in focus of the narrative arc OR do you like a strong male presence with an underscore of a female who either aides or is equal to the male hero? What timescape of history do you find yourself most keenly interested in reading about moreso than others?! Share your discoveries (i.e. book titles, authors) and what makes your heart get giddy for the pleasure of reading their stories!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Masque of a Murderer”, “From the Charred Remains”, and “A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate”, author photograph for Susanna Caulkins, author biography, book synopsis, and blog tour banners were all provided by HFVBT (Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours) and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva. Tweets embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2015.

Tweets shared as I read the novel:
{ share if inspired }

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Friday, 17 April, 2015 by jorielov in 17th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Bookish Discussions, Catholicism, Christianity, Crime Fiction, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Detective Fiction, England, Geographically Specific, Good vs. Evil, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Mystery, Historical Perspectives, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Passionate Researcher, Quakers, Religious History, Restoration England, Sociological Behavior, The Great Fire of London, The Great Plague of London, World Religions, Writing Style & Voice

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